Five months after you came into
the world, you discovered the fawn
brown mystery of brittle leaves in
December. Back when the winters
were late upon the earth.
With your sister, you played in the pile
of leaves like a small doll sinking into
the earth itself. Into a wormhole of foliage,
and a cataclysm of autumn. Laughing at
nothing but the act of knowing that sometimes,
it is good to laugh at nothing. A bald head.
A red coat. Two black eyes. Short brown eyebrows.
Overalls and a long-sleeved shirt with ultraviolet
purples and candy corn yellows.
It’s December 1981,
a shadow of the father in the
A softer shadow parting the leaf pile
just a few feet to the right.
Shadows playing tag on the
wall of the old blue house in the background.
White globs of sunlight floating like orbs made
to look like ocean creatures or balloons, the same
color as the birch trees brushing a sisters’ cheeks
with the bruised reflection of the mid-morning sun.
Oh, how good it is to play.
To be wild again. To be free again. To be a child again.
To think about a leaf pile as an amusement park.
George Cassidy Payne is a poet from Rochester, NY. His work has been included in such publications as the Hazmat Review, Moria Poetry Journal, Chronogram Journal, Ampersand Literary Review, the Angle at St. John Fisher College, and 3:16 Journal. George’s blogs, essays and letters have appeared in the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the Havana Times, the South China Morning Post, the Buffalo News, and more.